Insurance Assurance

With 2012 back in full swing, many homeowners will be looking at their finances for the year ahead and considering renewing or changing their current home insurance policies, says Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.

He says that although home insurance is a vital element to homeownership, it doesn’t have to break the bank and there are ways that homeowners can get lower insurance quotes.

“Like with most financial decisions, it is important for homeowners to shop around and get quotes from various insurance providers or alternatively use a service provider that finds that quotes for them. This will allow homeowners to compare all the options that are available to them, as well as what the products cover and provide. It will be a way for homeowners to compare apples with apples and make an informed decision. Just this step alone could have homeowners saving money, while getting the best insurance policy that caters to their specific needs,” says Goslett, “Many will accept a rate increase on their insurance policy without questioning it because they believe that they have the best offer and don’t have the time to investigate. In fact as many as half of all homeowners do this, but without completing the necessary research it is impossible to really know.”

While collecting insurance quotes from various providers may have been time consuming for homeowners in the past, Goslett says that with the advances in technology and the availability of online search portals, homeowners can now collect vast amounts of information in a relatively short space of time. Many online search sites now provide homeowners with quotes from different insurers without them having to go onto another site. It is advisable for homeowners to re-evaluate their home insurance annually due to the fact that the property’s value and contents may have changed over the past year.

“Many insurance brokers have the online capability to assist homeowners with the click of a mouse. Most of the work has been taken out of the process and made as simple as possible. Once the homeowner has listed their details and insurance requirements, a list will be sent to them with all insurance providers and policies they often that match the homeowner’s criteria. The list will also include the premiums that would be paid by the homeowner for each option. This will quickly paint a picture of which provider can give the homeowner the best value–for-money policy,” says Goslett.

He gives a few basic items to consider when homeowners are comparing policies:
  • Should cover structural damage – make sure that if the home is damaged or destroyed completely, the policy will fully cover the home being rebuilt. To assess how much cover is needed, check the cost of rebuilding one square metre in your area and multiply that by your home’s total square meterage. A professional real estate agent will be able to assist with these figures.
  • Possible liability cover – This covers injury or damage done to other people or their property, when you are at fault.
  • Household contents and personal property cover – This includes all items inside the home that are not a part of the structure itself, such as clothing, appliances and furniture. An inventory will need to be complied to assure the personal cover required. Certain items may be excluded or covered under other type of insurance.
  • Check if certain items, such as jewellery, need to be specified
Goslett notes that once a homeowner is happy with their choice of insurance provider and policy, other ways to decrease their monthly premium would include an upgrade in the home’s security system. While the initial outlay may be expensive, installing a security system and having an alarm maintenance contract can reduce the premium costs by as much as 5% in some cases. Improving security will also include joining a neighbourhood or block watch, as some insurers will offer reduced rates to homeowners associated with this sort of organisation.

Goslett notes that homeowners that have a low or no insurance claim history will be given preferential premium rates, so he advises homeowners to only claim when they absolutely have to, and rather, if possible, pay for small incidents from an emergency savings fund and leave insurance claims for when they are truly needed. Premiums can be further reduced by the homeowner opting to increase their standard policy excess that they pay when they claim.

“A home insurance policy is simply a must-have and by utilising these tips and reducing the premium rates for insurance coverage, homeowners will soon feel the advantage of the money they are saving while still being adequately covered for life’s unexpected incidents,” concludes Goslett.

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